Tuesday, September 19, 2006

How to Stop Wasting Your Life and Start Playing Games

"I Don't Play Games!"

"I don't play games. I'm a grown up. Besides, who has time to play games? I've got important things to do!"

Is this you? Do you think games are for kids and nerds, while grown ups do important things like read newspapers, watch Survivor, and talk about politics?

Well, ask yourself the questions you stopped asking yourself after you left school:

- Are you enjoying your life?
- Are you creating a meaningful life?
- Do you remember what you do all that work for?

Maybe you've forgotten what life is for. You feed your family, you give to the poor, you work for peace, you make or raise money to buy a house. You try to make a better world. You try to live a better life, or give a better life to your family and children.

Hey, wait a minute! Better life? What's a better life? Did you forget about that? Where does the better life start? How do you get there? What does living a better life mean?

The better life is what you do all those other things for.

There's no single way to live a better life, but it must include more than just working to make a better life for other people, so that they can go make a better life for other people in turn. Somewhere along the line, someone has to live it.

Living the better life doesn't mean retreating from all of that other work. Work you do is a cumulative investment. It has to grow and constantly be maintained. With care, even while you tend to your labors, you can enjoy the fruit.

A Better Life

But what constitutes a better life?

- Art: Whether you experience art, or you create art, the better life is one that tackles great themes, great emotions, great humor, and great love.

- Play: You play to connect to other people, to connect to the mechanisms of the world, to engage your brain, to stay young, and to build yourself and your community.

- Kinship: There is no love like family love, parent to child, spouse to spouse, sibling to sibling. Not all of us have a chance at all of these experiences, but most of us have access to some. Even if you don't, real friendship and kinship count, too.

- Rest: Just letting go of responsibility for a moment, an hour, a day, or a week, is to connect to a world that exists, but goes largely unrecognized. If you're too busy moving and creating, you never realize what you're moving and creating for. It's not enough to say it; stop and go do it.

Stand and look out at the world. You crawl the surface of a thin layer of crust on a vast solid object in space, miles of nothing beneath your feet, and light-years of nothing over your head. You're as busy as a beaver ; take time to think about the rest of the world. Are you really satisfied working half your time and wasting the rest on television and beer?

You are one step in the great story of mankind; make your step worthwhile. To do that you need to stop once in a while and refocus.

- Travel: That little layer of crust is all we have, but it behooves you to take out some time and get to know your fellow humans. In the grand scheme of things, we are all one family in a great garden. Get to know it.

- Thought: Read. Discuss. Create. Humans have come this far, but we've got a long way to go. Not everything has been thought of. Get yourself immersed in something important and start brainstorming humanity towards a new idea. Make your free time quality time.

- Divinity: Somewhere inside of us we all feel a need to have some meaning. It just doesn't feel right that humanity only exists to create more humanity. If it did, then why would we have these questions?

Wherever your spirituality takes you, get in touch with it. So long as it doesn't involve forcing others to believe in it too, it will be a positive thing for you and for the world.


This blog is about games (and occasionally about other things). So that's what I'll talk about.

If you think I'm going to tell you to spend time rolling dice and hoping your pawn crosses the finish line first, I can understand your reluctance to read any further. I'm not going to talk about gambling, which is the thrill you get when something beyond your control benefits you. That's not what I mean by games; although if you enjoy that sort of thing, and you do it responsibly, go for it.

I'm also not here to talk about investing your life in games that take up a lot of time or take years to play well.

And I don't want you to excuse yourself to a little corner of the room to play electronic games by yourself for hours on end.

I'm talking games that get you in contact with other people, that require attention to play well yet are easy enough for most people to learn, that are beautiful, constantly engaging, always give you a chance, and are tons of fun to boot.

How do you get started?

1. Decide to do more with your life.

2. Know why playing games is good for you. Here is a good start. There are many more articles like this one.

3. Know that you are not alone. Board Game Geek has more than a 100,000 registered users, and that is only a small percentage of the people who visit the site. The largest game convention in Germany gets more than 300,000 visitors each year.

4. Know what games to play. Take a look at Board Game Geek's top hundred games. Take a look at some of the Geek lists listing great games for all occasions. Good starting games include Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride.

5. Know where to get these games. Buy them online at places like TimeWellSpent or Funagain Games.

6. Learn the games. The rules for these games come with the games, and they are usually well written and illustrated. Even better is to find someone who knows how to play and have him or her teach you.

7. Find people to play with. Start with your family and friends. If that doesn't work, there may be a game group in your area, or gamers who live in your area. Ask about game groups on Board Game Geek, or search for registered users using their Find Users tool. Post notices in a local community center, or start your own game group.

And enjoy your life.


Written for ProBlogger's latest writing project.


mitch matthews said...

This is powerful!

It's also a great reminder of how we need to slow things down and connect... have fun... and live life... together.

I mean really... if we don't do this... what life stories will we have to tell?

Keep the good stuff coming!

By the way... I'm going to link to this post and get our peeps to check it out!



Anonymous said...

Great post! Very touching! Made me rethink my Fast Fast life. I just learned how to play Apples to Apples! Great game! Nice contribution to the Group Writing Project at ProBlogger. My How To is up also.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I love to take breaks in life and have fun. As for games...all the time!

Anonymous said...

Aww man! Everyone goes through that stage of 'growing up' and shedding the joys of games, most people never look back. I couldn't live without playing! Thanks, cool post!

Gerald McD said...

Yehuda -- thanks for a great justification for one of my hobbies.

And seriously -- this is an excellent piece and right on the money. I've played games off-and-on my entire life, but it only became a real hobby in recent years, when my grandchildren arrived on the scene and became great game-players. As you know, in our family, it's a genuine "family affair" on a weekly basis, with some of the best games available. I credit this gaming as a major contributor to our close family relationship.

Keep up the good work.

Mama Duck said...

Such a sweet post, I love it! Our how-to is up as well if you'd like to check it out!!

Yehuda Berlinger said...

mitch, matt, jersey girl, natalie, gerald, mama: thanks so much.


Anonymous said...

Great post! I can never find anyone to play games with; it seems like people here don't play games much, but with winter coming and some of the sources you listed maybe I'll have some luck finding some people to play with. Thanks. The picture is lovely, too.

Yehuda Berlinger said...

All the world's my pallet, and my brush: